Ever since people started venturing out on their bikes, hills have been an issue. There is the challenge and sometimes remorseless pain of going up them, followed by the joy of the descent. Though for many, coming down isn’t much fun either as they sit on their screeching brakes.

Over time technology has assisted the humble cyclist. Gears can make the hardest hill that bit easier, but your new found best friends soon abandon you when you’ve reached the last and biggest cog. Materials, such as carbon frames, help too by reducing weight.

However, the challenge of mountain climbs still captures every cyclist’s imagination. No-one remembers the flat stages of the Tour de France except the winner, and the proud mayors whose towns and villages the peloton whizzes through. But Alp d’Huez, Mont Ventoux, and the Col du Tourmalet are just three of its iconic mountain climbs which attracts thousands of people every year to torture themselves on a bike.

Whilst the hills in Cumbria, don’t reach the dizzy heights of the Alps or Pyrenees, they still provide an ample challenge. I missed the Tour of Britain in 2013 when it went over the Honister Pass in the pouring rain, but I was reassured to hear that even some of the pros were struggling up it. When the tour returned this year the Team Time Trial (TTT) from Cockermouth and up the Whinlatter Pass was described as “Hardest. TTT. Ever” by Team Katusha-Alpecin rider Alex Dowsett. It’s reassuring to know the legs of the pros hurt too.

There is much debate on how best to climb. Sitting is more efficient, but standing often feels like the only way to get up anything above 25%. Weaving across the road can help, but watch for other vehicles. Your heart will be pounding, your legs screaming, and looking too far ahead is fatal. Seeing how far you’ve got to go, and how little you’ve achieved, will sap you of all energy. Obviously keep an eye on the road, but only allow yourself to relax and relish the moment, when you feel the gradient relaxing. It’ll be worth it.

Of all the local cycling sportives, the Fred Whitton Challenge is the daddy of them all. Every year several thousand cyclists take to some of Cumbria’s biggest hill - travelling 114 miles and climbing some 3,900m. And I’m “lucky” enough to have secured a place in May this year. Honister, Whinlatter and Newlands feature, but I’ll also have to save something for both Hardknott and Wrynose pass towards the end. And then there are all the ‘minor’ hills inbetween like Fangs Brow.

“Why?”, you may ask. Of course it is for very worthy charitable causes – in this case MacMillan cancer support (it is named after the Lakes Road Club secretary who died of the disease aged just 50 years old), the Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue.

But it is also for the sheer exhilaration of taking on this mighty challenge. To say you’ve done it. And I can’t wait.